Coffee Break – Colorblock Satchel

Sloan & Alex 'Shea' Colorblock Satchel

2018 Update: Curious about when the next big Nordstrom sale is? The big Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale JUST started (May 23, 2018-June 3, 2018). Sign up for our newsletter to get our picks for workwear and beyond!

The below content is about the 2011 Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale.

The Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale continues (see my top picks), and there are still a ton of great pieces left… including this chic colorblocked satchel. Personally I like the ink/violet/forest combination (pictured), but it’s also available in a more subdued black/fawn/charcoal combination.  I love the luxurious look to the leather, as well as the numerous pockets inside — perfect for keeping your stuff organized and quickly accessible.  The bag was $178, but is currently marked to $118. Sloan & Alex ‘Shea’ Colorblock Satchel



  1. Attention Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler! We were talking about Chicago on yesterday’s splurge Monday thread and I replied to you late at night. Just FYI :)

  2. Random question :

    Have been thinking about this today and am interested to hear others’ thoughts: What do you consider when thinking about switching jobs? Just curious what the tipping point is for considering another opportunity when you feel neutral toward your current job. Do you look for something substantially better, or is marginally better (compensation, culture) enough?

    • Diana Barry :

      In biglaw, I tried to hang on for as long as I could bc of the money even though I hated it. Eventually pushed out bc I was a midlevel and there were lots of juniors, so I was too expensive, plus work was too slow in the dept. I had already been looking for work (in another biglaw firm) because I was so slow and had basically no work.

      • Kay.Em.Bee :

        I am content in my current position but looking for a much better job (money, opportunities). Because I have been happy where I am, I have the luxury of only applying for positions that I really want. NGDGTCO suggests moving every 3-5 years, btw – the idea being you have to move laterally to truly get ahead. My advice is not to wait until you want to leave, by then it’s too late and you’ll be unhappy for the time it takes to find a new position (and then you may accept a sub-par position). You should already be looking for better opportunities if you are considering a change at all, it doesn’t hurt to look and see what’s out there.

    • I think the trajectory matters in the comparison. I would take essentially a lateral/marginally better move if it offered better long-term opportunities. (Or, for that matter, if it offered substantially better work-life balance).

      If you are thinking about making a move like that, though, carefully review things like benefit and commute implications, to make sure that you don’t end up giving yourself a pay cut by accident.

      • In addition to benefit and commute implications, cost of living plays a role as well. X per year at a job in a midwestern or southern metro area can be the equivalent of 1.5X or more in a major metro area on the coast.

    • It so depends on your personal and professional goals and your priorities.

      If you don’t know what those are, i say work on them first. They will tell you when it’s time to change, and what to look for in the new role.

  3. Going to India soon. Have plans to visit New Delhi (and Agra) and Mumbai. Any good hotel/food recommendations? I’m going for as cheap as possible without challenging my western sensibilities (I’d like a clean room, and my own bath/shower if possible). Please help!

    • I used Compass Tours to organize everything for our trip to India. We had a large group of friends going. We visited New Delhi, Agra, Mumbai, Goa, Ajanta, Ellora, Judaipur and Udaipur. They arranged for all internal transportation (ground and air), tour guides at the various historic sites, hotels, meet and greets at each airport and hotel, etc. They were absolutely fantastic and worked with our budget and our interests. I don’t think I could have pulled together a trip like that on my own. You should look into them.

    • Anonymous :

      Khan Market in Delhi for shopping and eating! Got some of my favorite pieces of jewelry there for maybe 7 USD each.

      In Agra, I stayed at a Hilton, which was nice, Western-style and had decent food.

      Don’t think you’re special; you WILL get sick. Your body is just not used to the different. Make sure you brush your teeth with bottled water (should be provided in nice hotels).

      • Actually no one in our group of 8 suffered from Delhi Belly. We were just very careful – made sure we always drank bottled water, used it for brushing teeth, careful not to open mouth in shower…

      • I didn’t get sick in India! But I scarf some local yogurt ASAP every time I’m in a new country…

  4. How often do you buy a new piece of clothing? I know we’ve talked a lot about budgeting, but at this point, I’m thinking more about how to avoid buying too many things, regardless of how much they cost. I was looking to buy a new dress for a wedding yesterday and suddenly thought – Do I really need another dress? I have so many. I’m always looking for something new, and although I have the money for it and almost always buy on sale, I don’t think that’s necessarily a good idea. So anyway, do you buy something new each week? A few things a week? A few things a month? Is there ever a point when you think you’ve bought too much, separate from a money consideration?

    • I buy something new maybe once a month, outside of underwear and socks, which are replaced as needed. About twice a year I also do a shopping trip to the city and buy maybe 4-5 things per trip. Mostly I’m replacing things I’m moving out of my wardrobe, either because they’re worn out or they’re cheap clothes from my student life that I’m replacing with something nicer. I usually won’t buy something unless it fits in a hole I’ve already identified (e.g., if I find myself going “I wish I had a black sweater to wear with this” at least a couple times, I’ll consider buying a black sweater), although I still make the occasional impulse buy every few months.

      • Research, Not Law :

        This is my rate, too. My work and play wardrobes are pretty complete at this point and I don’t actually enjoy shopping, so I really only do it when I need to replace something. I make a handful of “just because I like it” purchases eachy year, though.

    • Anonymous :

      I probably buy a few new things a month (online) but return 75% of it. Rarely shop in person.

      I’m actually in the process of going through a closet overhaul. I don’t think my wardrobe is too large by corporette standards (I own about 10-15 pairs of shoes total, about 6 work skirts, 4 pairs of work pants, etc) but I’ve decided it is too much. I want to cull it down to a smaller, capsule wardrobe of the things I really love, are flattering, comfortable, etc. I mostly wear black, greys, blues, and creams, so I’m going to really consider anything that doesn’t fit that palette – i’ll keep a few “outlier” pieces that I know I wear frequently, but I want the rest to go. Too.Much.Stuff.

      • There used to be a blog called something like a very small closet. She advocated for workwear, a wardrobe of 12 outfits per season – 6 bottoms and 12 tops. And capsule wardrobes for the weekend, workouts, etc. That way you can have more variety in what you wear – not everything has to go with everything – and it takes the guesswork out in the morning since you have pre-made outfits. Some pieces can stay in the rotation from season to season, others get rotated out. This system worked for me in a bus cas office for several years.

        • Always a NYer :

          That sounds like the 333 project. I’ve looked into it but decided the anxiety at the thought of purging my closet was much greater than the slight anxiety I sometimes feel when choosing an outfit in the morning. But more power to those who can!

      • So does that come out to about one thing a month? I buy a ton of things online also and have recently been buying things only from stores where I can return in-person (and therefore for free), with an exception for Rue La La (although I buy things on there way less frequently and pretty much only when I know my size in the particular brand).

        How do you keep track of all of it? I feel like, since I return things so frequently, there is always a flux of money going in and out. I feel like I need to keep a notebook listing things I’ve bought, returned, etc., just so I can have a clear idea of how much I’m spending and how many pieces I’m buying.

        • In fact, that’s exactly what I’m going to do! How did I not think of this before??? Ha ha. It’ll be like calorie counting, but easier, because hopefully I don’t buy as many things as I eat. :) I’m just going to keep forwarding myself the same email with a tally of what I’ve bought for the month — no exceptions, I must write down every single thing I buy clothing wise.

          • I like this idea – I need to do the same! I feel like my closet (or my mailbox at least) is a revolving door of online shopping. Some of it stays, some of it goes back, but since I don’t use cash I feel it’s hard to keep track of what I spend.

          • Maybe consider a google document spreadsheet instead of an email chain. That way you can keep running totals, and have columns for in and out…

          • I need to do the same thing – but I’m honestly too terrified to find out the actual number of dollars I spend. So bad.

          • MissJackson :

            I do this pretty easily with Mint. I have a budget item for “clothing” and when a refund comes in, I classify it as clothing — that way I have a contstant total of what I’ve spent (the budget line will subtract the purchases and add the refunds for me so long as I classify them all as the same thing).

            I will note that this doesn’t help very much when I puchase something that is back-ordered (I tend to do so and forget about it because there is no charge until shipment).

          • I think it will be better for me, though, to have to go write down every item. Doesn’t Mint classify purchases for you automatically? I think I’ll think twice about it before buying if I have that extra step.

          • MissJackson :

            Yes, Mint categorizes things automatically. However, I get an email notification when I’ve gone “over budget” and a big scary red budget line. That doesn’t always keep me in order, but it does help! But do whatever works for you!

          • The iphone app called “Spend” worked for me.

   scares me, but I needed to keep track of my budget with regards to eating out. I was spending way too much. It helps keep track of debits and credits on particular budgets. It was very helpful.

            I think it was a Corporette suggestion a few months ago. Thanks to whoever it was that suggested it!

    • Usually 2-4 things a month. For one-time events like weddings, I try to see if I already have something I can wear. I don’t mind repeating clothes if the same people will be at the event who saw the item at another event, so that makes it easier. Otherwise, I buy things when I feel like trying a trend – i.e. riding boots – or when I’m low on something – i.e. jeans, sweaters. I have a relatively small closet, and go through it often to get rid of things that are worn out or dated.

      I’ve also gotten much better about not buying things unless I absolutely love them and can imagine when/where I’d wear it in the next couple of weeks, and that alone means there isn’t that much for me to buy. I occasionally take a chance on something, but only if it’s inexpensive and my hesitation is because it’s a new style for me, not because of fit/quality issues.

      We should have a giant thread at some point on how much clothes we have and how often we wear them. I think I have very little, but I’d love to see how I actually stack up.

      • I’m so in need of a closet purge, but I do have some lovely clothes. I was actually thinking of trying to organize a clothing swap.

        And volume-wise, I have 2 walk-in closets in my apartment.

        • Blonde Lawyer :

          OOOhhhh – Boston Corporette Meet Up Clothing Swap!!!! Though I’m not sure if I have much to add since I made a good will dump recently.

          • You should check out the Swapaholics. There are a lot of events around Boston and I have gotten some excellent items. It’s mostly fashion bloggers who participate, but they buy/are given a lot of nice stuff that they seem to rotate right through!

          • Gooseberry :

            Yes, that sounds great! A Boston Corporette clothing swap! I’m in!

        • Boston bound :

          That’s a fantastic idea! I went to one and it was really fun. I too recently did a closet purge, but I could find a few things to share and these swaps are always fun even if I don’t get anything out of them.

        • I try to purge pretty regularly (although I have a bedroom set up for shoes and clothes and my other habits). We have a small clothing exchange in our staff lounge and one of my staff (single mom) regularly snaps up whatever I leave there. It’s a little odd seeing someone else wearing my clothes but they’re usually things I didn’t wear much. I’m trying to get my church to set up a “closet” for women in need of professional clothes. I have a hard time giving away shoes. I wear heels and most women I know won’t wear them. I probably buy a pair of shoes a month. Clothing less often. I make a trip to a bigger city every couple of months for shopping.

      • I seriously need a closet purge. But I feel tremendous guilt about getting rid of things that are perfectly good, even if I don’t wear them as much as I should. I love the idea of a capsule wardrobe but in reality I am not sure I could stick to it. I would probably just keep buying things. At least my current I-have-too-much state keeps me from overbuying. At the moment I try to keep it to once a month, unless something really needs to be replaced. And on my recent London trip I went with a “pre-approved” list of things I was *allowed* to purchase without guilt, and did not veer away from it.

        • Classof2011 :

          I feel the same way! I always try to get rid of things but end up making excuses to keep them.

    • a passion for fashion :

      I was just thinking about this very thing (as i spent an unimaginable amount at the half-yearly sale). I buy way, way too much. Part of it is what seems like my constantly changing body size (i gain and lose 5-15 lbs fairly regularly), part of it is just buying stuff because now i can (like you, I have enough money and usually buy stuff on sale). I guess there are worse things i could do.

      • Me too. I basically spend all my disposable income on clothes. My weight fluctuates within a range of sizes, and I like clothes and accessories better than vacations or fancy meals. I’ve recently cut back on shopping, because I have enough clothes that I could go several weeks without wearing the same item, and since I really like basically everything I own, I want to wear the same piece more often.

    • Diana Barry :

      I have been buying a bunch of stuff lately (1-2 things a week) bc my size is changing so quickly with pregnancy and many of my maternity clothes were the wrong season. Plus I couldn’t find my maternity tights, so I had to buy more of them. AND I need new bras often bc my boobs are growing. Grr. I am trying not to buy stuff unless I absolutely need it, but when I am down to 2 bras and 3 pairs of work pants, sometimes everything is at the cleaners or in the dirty clothes pile before I can do laundry, and I need more stuff!

      • I buy way too much stuff. Usually online, but in person, too. I try to make myself stop buying things, but then I get bored or tempted by a “good” sale or see something I love. Or seasons change and I decide I need stuff for the new season. I have lots of gorgeous clothes, but I don’t even wear more than 3/4 of them on a regular basis.

        • This. I’m so glad I’m not the only one :) I spend so much on clothing, it’s ridiculous. I wear my new clothes maybe once or twice – and many of my shoes only make it out of my closet three or four times. I have several items (including shoes) that have never made it out. In high school I never wanted to wear the same “outfit” twice. Now (many years later) I rarely wear the same separates twice. I buy because I’m bored or because I’m tempted by a great sale or because the shoes are “one of a kind” or because the pants “fit so perfectly”… etc. Shopping is not only my cardio, it’s my yoga and my quiet time.

          Any suggestions on how to get out of this pattern?

          • MissJackson :

            Do you track your spending? Even if you are not living above your means sometimes seeing the numbers is enough to scare me into frugality for awhile.

            Have you tried going cold turkey? Try not buying anything for 30 days.

            Is there anything big and expensive that you really want that you could save for instead? You could move money into a special savings account everytime you resist buying clothes/shoes — so you reward yourself for not buying by getting closer to your goal.

      • Bursting out :

        Me too! None of my regular clothes fit, and my body is changing so rapidly that what fit last month doesn’t fit this month.

        Ironically, I was planning for this fall’s shopping to be more about more expensive, better quality items that I could keep longer, but instead I’ve ended up in a bunch of short-term maternity stuff from the Gap, LOFT, and ebay.

      • This is an interesting thread… but it makes me more interested in how often people clean out their closets and consign/donate clothes…

    • I probably buy several things a week but return most of them. I have a small closet so am trying to be picky about what I keep and make sure that I can wear the item to work and out.

    • MissJackson :

      It goes in fits and spurts for me. When I first started working, I was constantly buying and adding to my professional wardrobe. However, at the time my quality standards were lower, and I was buying for volume. In the intervening years, I was super-frugal and didn’t buy much at all while focusing on paying down my loans.

      I wore that starter wardrobe with a few additions along the way until about 6 months ago, when I looked in my closet and realized: (1) the small amount of weight gain in the intervening 5 years has rendered some of the stuff absolutely unwearable, (2) much of the stuff that was cheap to begin with looked pathetic now, and (3) I was missing some very serious basics. Since then, I’ve worked on filling the gaps, adding quality basics, and buying some fun trendy stuff that makes it fun to get dressed. To be honest, I kind of went crazy and had a blast reinventing my wardrobe. It’s so refreshing to enjoy picking an outfit in the morning!

      Ideally, I’d like to buy one high quality item per month from here on out so that in five more years I don’t find myself with the same completely-worn-out and dated wardrobe problem again.

      I’ve mastered frugality and I’ve mastered splurging. I hope that I can eventually master some sort of middle ground!

      • Georgiana Starlington :

        I’m in the same boat. I gained weight gradually all through college and law school so I was buying/purging clothes the whole time. Of course my whole wardrobe at that point (with the exception of interview suit and some dresses, nice tops, etc) was casual clothing. When I clerked the first summer of law school, I bought a few inexpensive suits and some tops – basically enough to make it through my 6-week clerkship without feeling like I’d worn the exact same outfit once a week. When I started full time work I worked on expanding my wardrobe with more inexpensive pieces (especially with winter pants – I’d worn dresses/skirts 80% of the time to my summer clerkship but definitely needed pants for winter).

        As of this summer, I’d been working about a year when I started losing weight. I’ve lost 28 pounds and have tried to make my clothes last as long as possible – just buying a couple pairs of inexpensive pants to wear with a-bit-too-big blazers/tops. I’m trying to spend the least amount possible until I get to my goal weight, at which point I will obviously need enough clothes to get me through a couple weeks at a time, but I will slowly start adding higher quality pieces that will last. I don’t really see the end of my “frequent buying” lifestyle for at least another year, since I basically have to replace my entire wardrobe. And I like having a big enough wardrobe that I don’t have to constantly do laundry/go to the dry cleaner.

    • For those who have an edited wardrobe, how do you get a wide variety of colors in your life? Decor? Flowers? Art? It seems like an article of clothing is a fast, low-committment way of experiencing a range of colors on a regular basis. Maybe it’s just me. My favorite part of a part time job working for a clothing manufacturer was going to the room where they stored fabric in many colors.

  5. Not a happy flyer :

    In all the conversations about travel, we’ve never really talked about those that prefer not to fly. Ever since Sept. 11, I find myself – usually only on takeoff – to be somewhat of a nervous flyer. My unease is usually pretty well hidden (particularly if my husband is flying with me), but it’s probably apparent to someone sitting next to me (think, nervous looking out the window or grabbing the handrests). It’s embarrassing, and I’ve been working on getting over it.

    However, I fly on Thursday to a meeting with my senior partner. I wasn’t too worried, b/c I assumed we wouldn’t be seated together, but our seats are next to each other. I want to appear to be a calm, cool professional, but am worried that I will give away my anxiety – especially if he’s really chatty during takeoff. Any suggestions?

    • AnonInfinity :

      Can you bring something to do with your hands so that you won’t be tempted to grab the arm rests? Even a book or magazine might help.

      Good luck!

    • Blonde Lawyer :

      I have a strong fear of flying though I don’t let that stop me from going. I went to therapy for mine. I also found reading a lot of fear of flying forums helpful. I took a free online course prepared by a pilot. I think the website is fear of flying help dot com (without the spaces.) That helped me a lot. I also take a small dose of xanax. I have never had to fly for business but if I did, I would be upfront about my fear. Since I usually have my eyes closed during take off and can’t even come close to managing a conversation, I wouldn’t be able to hide it.

      My fear is totally irrational. I know the plane isn’t going to crash. But, I get panicky and claustrophobic stuck in my chair with no way out. I get worse during turb or whenever the seat belt sign is on. Part is b/c I have a digestive disorder and always worry “uh oh, I can’t go to the bathroom right now.”

      I have to have an aisle seat near the bathroom or else my anxiety is way worse. I would deal with all that pre-booking. If I was in your shoes, I would probably request that my seat get moved to an aisle near the bathroom (since that is what I prefer) and I would just mention that I tend to get up to use the restroom often and prefer a seat back there.

      If yours is just flying anxiety I’d probably just mention it on the plane unless you think not mentioning it ahead of time will cause you more anxiety. There is nothing wrong with saying “sorry, I’m a bit anxious about flying and would prefer to not chat until after we reach cruising altitude.”

      I also know of another senior partner whose anxiety is as bad as mine and has been caught practically crying during turbulence before. I guess it is just a “know your partner” situation. Many would be sympathetic.

    • Askthepilot is another good resource for fear of flying stuff – he’s got a website and a column on Salon.

      I hate to fly, but usually can calm myself with deep breathing exercises. Also, if you carry your tension in your hands, try deliberately moving it elsewhere – tense your triceps or curl your toes or something that won’t be noticeable.

      A beer at the airport’s not a bad idea, either. :)

      • I echo the things said above re reading about flying and the particular websites. I find that sound affects a large part of the experience, therefore I would suggest that you wear earplugs to drown out the sound of the engines or, if you are flying with an airline that has in-flight entertainment (such as Virgin America), to listen to music on the way up to distract yourself from your surroundings.

        • How could I forget the best way I’ve dealt with flying anxiety?! Talking to someone about anything but flying.

    • another anon :

      I would just go online and switch your seat assignment, and make up a reason to tell the partner if s/he asks ( I prefer the window so I can rest my head against the wall, or I prefer the aisle because I usually need to get up once or twice). And pick a seat that shows the ones next to it already occupied, so that the partner doesn’t try to switch once you get to the airport.

      • another anon :

        Or if you have enough miles to do an upgrade, now may be a good time to use them, if you are that concerned about it.

      • Former Clerk :

        Wheee, I just did this! I played it off as, “Oh, I guess the airline changed my seat, weird, okay, see you when we get there.” It was perfect.

    • Not a happy flyer :

      Thanks for the suggestions all! I don’t think changing seats will be an option, as both of us were upgraded and the flight is now booked. I think I’ll be buying a New Yorker, and will be very engaged in a particular article at the time of takeoff. Argh, I usually don’t mind traveling – other than the random periods of nerves/anxiety – but sitting together makes the whole situation that much more awkward. It’s my first trip with him, and I really look up to him as a mentor, so I’m hoping the trip is as seamless as possible.

      • I also think it’s fine to just tell him that you’re a little nervous about flying. So long as you don’t grab his hand or puke, it’s perfectly acceptable to be a normal human being who has fears.

        • Research, Not Law :

          I’m thinking this, too. Fear of flying is completely normal. I’ve sat next to strangers who were clearly anxious and never thought poorly of them in the least. It would definitely not affect my opinion of a coworker, even a subordinate.

    • Empathy. I suddenly started being nervous about flying a couple of years ago – totally out of the blue. I was flying to Glasgow, and had a layover in Amsterdam, and on the flight to Amsterdam I suddenly became absolutely convinced that the plane was either going to a) explode or b) crash.

      In retrospect, it turned out that I hadn’t been diligent about eating, and attribute the panic to low blood sugar. (The rest of the leg was fine after I got some dried apricots at Schipol)

      But the nervousness still remains – I’ve narrowed it down to take off or turbulence (where I sit and ask “Why am I doing this to myself”) and am usually fine when the plane goes into cruising or landing.

      Having someone next to me that I know or can talk to is actually a help in distracting me, so I wouldn’t necessarily try to switch seats away from the partner. Alternatively, I like to pick up a newspaper or a magazine and read during take off.

      I haven’t mastered my fear yet, but I find that if I can control the surroundings I can control and minimize the stress aspect of it helps calm me down.

      Some tips that works for me.
      1) Be early at the airport for check-in/safety,
      2) have something to eat prior to boarding,
      3) buy a bottle of soda after safety check (I never drink it otherwise, but a small bottle of Sprite helps keep the blood sugar at bay for me) and maybe a small package of trail mix.
      4) Motion sickness pills. (Makes me a bit drowsy, but also ensures that should the plane have to circle before landing, I’ll be okay)
      5) Entertainment for distraction purposes.

      • co-sign having something to eat and also avoid coffee at all costs.

      • manoavalleygirl :

        I am completely terrified of flying. It’s because I’m not in control and I don’t surrender control easily. . . or at all.

        I’ve never slept on a flight, even a 14 hour one to New Zealand. And, I’ve never crashed. So I put two and two together and come up with: my fear and anxiety are keeping the plane aloft. As long as I stay awake, we’ll never crash. So if you are ever lucky enough to fly with me, no worries, be happy. I’ll stay hypervigilint and keep us all safe.

        • Yeah, I’d rather you be medicated and relaxed than freaking out next to me because you think it’s keeping us all safe.

          That’s just weird. And would probably be annoying if I had to sit next to you.

    • LinLondon :

      I occasionally get anxious flying (don’t know why, I fly Transatlantic quite a lot, and only sometimes do I feel iffy), but I just remind myself that the pilot doesn’t want to die, either, and they’re gonna do their darndest in the c*ckpit to keep everyone in the air.

    • My mother is a nervous flier and passed that trait along to me (thanks mom!). After reading a number of forums, 2 things have helped me:

      1) Eat something before/during the flight, preferably protein. Maintaining normal blood sugar levels decrease any anxiety mood swings.
      2) Turbulence (my weak point) is caused by different winds/air pressure. The bumps we feel in the air are not the plane moving up and down (or side to side) because huge gusts of winds are batting it around, but really the movement is more akin to a car going over a speed bump. I’ve found visualizing that has calmed me tremendously.

  6. I really want to like this purse, but whenever I look at it, all I can see is the blue and brown Esprit purse my mom bought for me in 1988!

    • I think I might by this purse, b/c it is leather and it is less then $200. When I went to law school, I ALWAYS wanted a COACH purse, but all the ladies had one. Now I want one of these b/c no one at my firm has one. Also, it is big enough for me to pack a sandwich inside when I come to work, otherwise it gets smooshed in the subway. And I hate it when men put there hands on my bottom in the subway. I think they do it on PURPOSE. Fooey on them. FOOEY!

  7. First of all – totally agree with Sadie on the 1988 thing.

    Second – recently, I’ve been having such trouble with hitting the wall around, well, now, so 3:30/4pm. I’ve been very busy and working very hard recently, but I just get to this time of day and I’m useless for an hour or two. I’m too junior to go out to the gym and come back in this time, and I’ve been trying to limit unnecessary snacking or caffeine, but does anyone have any suggestions on how they get through this?

    • Take a walk around the block. Fresh air (and sun, if you’re lucky enough to have a sunny day) helps every time.

    • I always crash around this time, too. I know you said you want to limit unnecessary snacking, but have you tried deliberate snacking? Try taking a 10-15 minute break and making yourself a protein-rich snack, like an apple with peanut butter, yogurt with granola, or string cheese with crackers. Drink a bottle of water or a cup of tea, too, and walk around the office for a bit or go outside for a few minutes. A deliberate recharge with food and water will go a long way.

    • I tend to hit mine more around 2-2:30, butI find drinking a cup of green tea right before that time helps. Just a little caffine, and doesn’t leave you with that crash feeling.

    • I’ve been drinking caffeine-free peppermint infusion/tea recently. There is no caffeine, but the peppermint perks me up a bit.

    • And make sure you’re eating protein and fiber for lunch, too.

    • SoCal Gal :

      That used to happen to me all the time. It’s a post-lunch sugar/carb crash, in my experience. Try eating proteinier lunches and breakfasts and staying away from the bread/fries/free office donuts/whatever your downfall is.

      Once the condition has already set in, all that helps me is (1) quick brisk walk around the block (2) splash cold water on the face (3) coke zero with lots of ice.

  8. Snow/commuting question. I’m going to be starting at a big firm next year, and I’m wondering what kind of snow boots are appropriate for commuting in bad weather (and then obviously changing once I get to the office). Are these ok ? (I’ll be in Chicago, in case that makes a difference)

    • Those are cute! My Texan brain cannot even fathom having to wear those to work, though. :)

    • Those are fine for a Chicago winter commute. No one’s snow boots are particularly pretty. I’m curious as to whether anyone has tried out the newish heated Columbia electric snow boots? They have a rechargeable battery. I am tempted to give them a shot.,default,pd.html#

      • There is no way I would spend $400 on a pair of snow boots. Yikes!

        • It’s a lot of $$ for some not-pretty boots. But I figure if I wear them every day for 4 months out of the year, then they will be worth it – but only if they really keep your feet warm! I hate commuting with freezing feet in the winter.

          • Ditto – I could have used snow boots for almost 6 months last year. If you really want to keep your feet warm, look for frost-plugged soles, or some sort of layer in the sole to keep the cold from seeping in, and then buy the boot a little bit big so that body heat in the shoe can circulate – that air space helps keep your foot warm.

          • Yeah, at first I typed “6 months” rather than 4, but then decided to be optimistic! :-)

      • Research, Not Law :

        Can I just give a shout-out that my brother was the lead on the battery design? Thanks ;)

      • Alaskan Attorney :

        Holy crap these are amazing! Heated boots! I’m in.

        Thanks for the link!

        (And thanks to your brother, Research.)

    • They’ll be really good for dealing with the snow and cold because Sorels are awesome for that (I got the taller Cate the Greats) – just be warned that the duck boot can feel a bit cumbersome – your heel will slip and slide around and the sole of the shoe won’t bend that much.

      They definitely won’t be the most discrete snow boot out there…

      • If you wanted something less flashy – the Sorel Cumberland II or Earhart (which are kind of adorable) might be a good option. They’ll be just as warm, you can still tuck your pant leg in, but they won’t have the danger of being overly cutesy. Otherwise North Face and Columbia (even Lands End) have some simple (but sturdy and substantial) snow boot options.

        How wintery is your office likely to get? Are we talking Minneapolis/Chicago or New York or somewhere else?

        • Chicago, majorly wintery. That’s why I’m hoping something like this is ok. Given the general yuckiness of winter, if I have to wear big ugly boots everyday, I’d rather have them be some that I like, rather than ultra boring ones.

          • I have the Joan of Arctics (cold, northeast winters). They’re perfect for commuting in the snow.

          • I think your fellow Chicagoans will understand the need for actual winter gear. I really like my Cates – I have a very casual office, and there were a couple times last winter that I wore them to the office and just didn’t take them off.

    • Chicagoan :

      Totally fine! I see people wear boots like that all day at work (not that I would recommend doing so). Practical trumps fanciness here, for sure.

    • I feel like even the most conservative office has to make an exception for snow boots, because pretty + functional just doesn’t exist. I think those would be fine, and they’re pretty cute in person. I have a pair of Sorel Caribous, myself.

      • La Canadienne. Lived in Minneapolis for years. Waterproof, non-slip, salt-resistant, warm, and also cute. I tromped through ankle-high snow daily in mine.

    • Littlest Attorney :

      I lived in Chicago for three years, and I think those are a bit much. It does snow but downtown is plowed. So unless you live somewhere that doesn’t get plowed quickly, you probably don’t need something that warm. The real issue is when the snow melts and there is water everywhere and splash from cars. If it were me, I would buy Hunter style rain boots and the warm fleece wellington socks to go with them. You’ll be able to wear them in a wider variety of temperatures and be assured they are 100% waterproof when you have to trudge through a puddle of icy water.

      • Those Sorels are waterproof for sure. And really, really warm. Again, I live in a very snowy urban area and I wear mine all winter.

      • And just because it gets plowed, doesn’t mean that the snow gets removed. The downtown area here (not Chicago) gets plowed, and they try to remove the snow, but it doesn’t always happen overnight. And if the snow isn’t removed, then you’ve got the huge mounds of snow on the curbs.

        Plowing does not eliminate the need for snow boots, unfortunately. :)

      • Also. Unless you lived in Chicago in the past two years, you have NO IDEA. The winters have been so much worse snow-wise the past couple of years. Hunter boots really didn’t do the trick last year (though I do love how invincible they make you feel – you can cross any alley! walk through any gutter!)

        • Exactly. Again, not Chicago – but had snow in Nov that didn’t leave until March. And closed the URBAN school districts for 2 days (which never happens) just so they could plow enough to get emergency vehicles (and school buses) down city streets. The past couple years have been really winters.

          And part of keeping your feet warm in snow boots is to have a cold blocking layer in the sole of the shoe, which fleeced-lined wellies just aren’t going to have. I have other snow boots that don’t have it. But Sorels do.

    • law talking girl :

      Whatever boots you buy, I suggest getting a pair of sheepskin insoles as well. They cushion and insulate your feet. It’s like walking on little clouds.

  9. Do any of you ladies scuba dive? I am planning on getting PADI certified during my next vacation. I checked with the dive resort and they said they have all equipment for rent there, so I don’t need to bring along my own mask, fins and snorkel. Part of me would prefer to just rent since the gear would take up valuable suitcase space and I’d rather not buy gear that I may not use if I end up not liking scubadiving, but I am wondering if people really recommend bringing your own stuff. Thoughts?

    • I am happy to use rented BC, regulator, tanks, etc. but I think a poorly fitting mask can really ruin a dive. It’s hard to enjoy the views when you’ve got salt water trickling in or a painfully bad fit around the nose/forehead. Also small and easy to pack. I feel similarly about fins, but there is less variability in shoe size than face shape.
      If you are going to buy a mask, go to a dive shop and ask for help finding the right one.

      • I agree with this – go to a dive shop and get a good fitting mask. I don’t remember how much I paid for mine – maybe $50-75 with a snorkel? – but it was so.much.better the next time I went diving/snorkeling. I still get a small amount of water in my mask, but not as bad as with rented ones.

        • Agreed! The last time I used a rented mask, it leaked so much I came out of the water with a nasty sinus infection. I was sick the rest of the trip!

      • Agreed as well! I’ve been diving for years, and while I don’t have any other equipment, I always bring my own mask and snorkel. I have my own fins too, but those really do take up a lot of suitcase space, so sometimes I forego them. Highly recommend fins+booties. Your toes get cold first, and booties also just make fins more comfortable.

        On my honeymoon I wasn’t planning on diving because DH wasn’t certified and didn’t bring my gear, but we got bored on the beach after a couple days and he decided to do the PADI certification. (P.S. certifying on vacation is the way to do it– quick, laid back “classroom” and pool portions and great open water dives! So much better than how I did it back in the day. Plus, if you have a certified diver with you, he/she may be able to come along on your checkout dives at a discount. I went along on all of DH’s dives for half price!) I dove the rest of the week with a loaner mask and snorkel. It didn’t kill my enjoyment, but it was definitely an annoyance — especially because it was a cheap one with little peripheral vision.

    • I’ve only done it once, but my husband is certified. We’ve just rented at the place, and that was fine- I wouldn’t invest in the equipment unless you’re really serious or going to be diving locally. Too expensive and too much of a hassel to move it. (I have a pretty tiny face and had no problem finding a mask that fit.)

    • I dive, a lot. I always bring my own gear. Actually, we bring everything but the tanks when we fly to dive. However, that said, if you are new to diving, then I would not buy all of the gear until you know you’re going to enjoy diving.

      The only gear I do recommend you purchase for your class is your own mask, a set of fins, booties, and a snorkel. The mask is most important here. You need a mask that fits your face, and you will need to go to a dive shop to try them on. It’s not something you can just buy online and be fine. Anyone at your local dive shop should be able to help you with fitting, but generally, you want a mask that fits comfortably around your face, and if you inhale slightly through your nose, creates a seal and doesn’t fall off.

      I’d also buy booties, just so that they fit. I recommend ScubaPro booties with a thicker sole. This protects your feet while walking. If you get fins, I recommend ScubaPro JetFins. These are not as important as the mask. But I think you should get them. Even if you end up not liking diving (which I think you will love), you may want to go snorkeling in other locations.

      I will caution you, to take it easy, and relax, and you will have a much more enjoyable experience. No need to rush through anything. Scuba is all about being slow and relaxed. Good luck, and let us know how you like it. Taking up diving was one of my best decisions in college (took the course as my elective PE) and I’ve never regretted it. It truly opens up another world of experiences to you.

      • MissJackson :

        I’ve only done resort dives, but I’d like to get certified eventually.

        I agree with everyone above about getting your own mask/snorkle from a dive shop. I have a ScubaPro mask that I love, but the most fit is key so buy whatever feels best to you. A mask doesn’t take up much room in the suitcase, either. I also own fins (I bought this stuff for a Marine Biology class that I took in college over the summer – not for random resort dives), but they are so bulky that I sometimes don’t take them with me even if I know there will be dive opportunities. If there is room in my suitcase, they go, but if not I don’t worry about it.

    • I always bring mask/fins/snorkle – even if you don’t take to scuba diving it’s the same equipment for snorkling, which I find useful on all sorts of island vacations. The other equipment I get from the dive shop. I would bring mask and snorkle at a minimum, those don’t take up much space.

    • Agree that the mask is probably the most crucial piece of equipment you should get. Buying booties is probably a good alternative to buying (and packing) booties + fins at this stage.

      Another thing to note is that recommendations abound and divers tend to have strong view about the *best* piece of equipment, but what is “best” really depends on your own physical condition, strength, preferences etc.

      You might be better off waiting until you’ve done a few dives before really investing in equipment. If this turns into a serious hobby, you will probably spend many happy hours reading about masks, fins, etc. and will inevitably end up buying something new and different eventually. Since dive equipment isn’t all that cheap (when you add everything up), avoid regret and start off with the bare minimum. No harm deciding on a colour scheme in advance either, if you’re that way inclined.

      FWIW, I’ve had good experiences with Bare wetsuits, Aqualung masks (especially the low volume models) and Gull fins if you can find them. If you consider Gull fins, make sure you look at the website first, because they make everything in the BEST colors.

      • Sorry – should be *views, lol

      • karenpadi :

        I’ll second getting a low-volume mask. So much easier to clear.

      • karenpadi :

        Haha. Love your comment. I love talking scuba almost as much as I love diving.

        Think my equipment set up is the BEST EVER? Yes, I spent years assembling it. Spending hours researching equipment? Been there, done that. Bought different equipment once I did more diving and got more experience? Yep. Figured out a color scheme? All black.

        As a beginner, make sure to have at least one super visible item that identifies you underwater. I have a bright pink snorkel. Others have bright fins, a bright wetsuit, or something tied to their tank or BCD (vest-like thing).

        • Heh, if you can’t go diving, at least you can read about it and shop for gear.

          I knew I was hooked when I realised that the smell of neoprene put me in a good mood. I’ve even been tempted to get a neoprene bag for work – see

          • karenpadi :

            Oh yes, the “dive shop smell” high. Pure bliss. Thanks for the link, I’m going to have to consider this.

    • karenpadi :

      Yeah! Scuba diving!

      I’ll echo the others: the mask is the most important piece of equipment. The only sense you have underwater is sight. If your mask is not properly fitted, the dive will not go well.

      About your mask, go to a dive store and try every mask. You “try on” a mask by smooshing it to your face and seeing if it falls off (don’t put the strap around your head). The key is to open your mouth after a mask “sticks” and see if it still sticks. You’ll find two or three masks that fit at various price points. For a beginner, I’d go with the cheap mask.

      When choosing a mask, you have a choice of “skirt” color, usually clear or black. Clear is prettier, but I personally like black skirts better because it cuts down on light reflecting inside my mask. YMMV.

      If you have long hair, I’d recommend considering a comfort strap. I personally like wearing a nylon swim cap to control my hair and using a normal strap.

      One more thing, you’ll have to “treat” your mask to avoid fogging. There is a layer of something on the inside of the mask as a result of manufacturing that causes fogging. There are many ways to do this. I recommend flaming the mask using a lighter and “burning” that stuff off. Dive operators LOVE burning masks so if you don’t have the heart to do it, your dive op should be willing to do it for free.

      Second is fins/booties. I’ve had torn up feet from poorly fitting fins and booties. So it is worth it for me. for most people, I don’t think it matters. Third, snorkel. If you plan on snorkeling, I’d invest in one that has a “blowout valve” near the mouthpiece.

      • Clear skirts also turn yellow, and all manner of muck that gets stuck in the mask is visible.

        Hmm, I’ve been thinking about mask straps. I’ve tried those neoprene thingies you slip over the normal strap,but then I lose the grip and end up over-tightening the strap. With the normal strap I get hair-breakage but at least don’t end up with mask face. Not keen on swim caps. It just seems like a no-win situation…

        • I use a neoprene mask replacement strap (doesn’t cover the normal strap, but completely replaces it). This has worked well. When my hair is cut too short to pull it back into a pony-tail, I’ll wear a 2mm hood to keep everything tame. That’s worked pretty well for me. Definitely better than the rubber strap that pulls out 100 hairs every time I remove my mask.

          Also, even if you over-tighten your mask strap, just exhale out of your nose and it’ll keep you from getting mask face.

        • karenpadi :

          It is a no-win situation. Sigh. Every woman seems to have a different solution. I’ve been considering a hood for additional warmth. CSF, does the chin strap bother you?

          • To be frank, I’ve never noticed the chin strap, ever. But, I only do a 2 or 3mm hood as a general rule, and never anything more than that. I hate the feeling of my neck being constricted, and if I don’t have the ability to turn my head as easily in the hood as without, it drives me completely crazy. I don’t have that problem with a 2mm, but I have had to take off a 6mm in the middle of a dive for that reason.

          • karenpadi :

            Thanks! I’m the same about my neck/chin when diving. I buy one piece of equipment before each trip and I’m starting to really lean towards getting a hood.

    • We got PADI certified at a resort. We did decide to bring our own masks, fins, and snorkels, but rented the rest of the gear. I’m glad we did, because I just found it easier to use my own mask which was comfortable and adjusted for me.

  10. Good news regarding stress and infertility for us over-achieving chicks:

    And I MUST get back to work. I am all over this thread today.

    • I thought that that article did make some good points, so I’m not taking away from that, but a lot of it seemed pretty much based around the idea that “it upsets women too much to suggest that stress might be an issue, so it’s just awful to say that.”

      I read Slate just about every day, but I always find that the XX section, when it bills itself as “what women really think about . . .” is defining “women” as something entirely foreign to me.

  11. Alterations at Nordies?

    Hi All,

    I have my eye on a dress at Nordies that is way long for my 5 foot frame. Do you happen to know if they do free alterations? Also, is it possible to shorten a knit sweater dress (Viscose rayon/nylon)?


    • Most alterations are free if the dress is full price. As to the specific dress, I (and the rest of the hive mind) could take a guess but a photo would help. :)



    • yes, a lot of alterations are free on full priced items, but if it’s more complicated they do charge even if full priced. when you’re in the dressing room they have a price list; maybe call and give the rep the item # and they could tell you if they’d charge for what you want? hemming is usually free but a sweater dress might change that.

    • Tailoring is usually free at Nordies, but go there and ask a salesperson. Sweater-dress might be tough.

  12. whine, need wine :

    I hate my apartment. and it is in such a cute area and I had such high hopes. I keep finding bugs. Not an infestestation just really creepy gross fast ones, like once a day. Today the landlord said the plumber needed to come and fix the shower. Ok fine. I moved in July and I have had to leave so work can be done at least 6 times already. Lost hot water once, roof leaked into my bathroom, things just seem to keep breaking. Today I leave go for a long walk come back, and the front door is wide open while they are working. No screen door, so please outdoor bugs, come on in and move into my apartment. And their were 5 men there. Why 5 men? I dont like them in my space! this was supposed to be my beautiful apartment and they bring so much dirt in and keep me out of the apartment when i should be able to be inside of it enjoying it. sfjkhsjkdfhskjdhf

    • Maddie Ross :

      It could be worse, you could own the apartment and need to pay for it (and take time off work) each one of those 6 times. That seems to be the story of my life lately.

      Signed, a disgruntled property owner.

      • Seattleite :

        I hear you. Sold my house a few months ago after nearly 25 years as a homeowner (bought way too young). I *LOVE* not having to save for a new roof, water heater, or assorted emergencies. And oh, the joys of living in a condo complex where the HOA takes care of all that pretty grass outside my sliding glass door.

    • karenpadi :

      Gross. Have you tried spraying the perimeter (or doorways) with Raid?

      Have you thought about joining the legion of cat ladies? My female cat loves hunting big bugs. Every time I’ve moved with her, she spent the first month in bug-hunting paradise (I try not to think too much about it).

      My male cat is just useless when it comes to bugs (but he purrs so well).

      • I have two brother cats. They both hunt, but one of them exclusively hunts bugs. I have seen him catch a housefly between his front paws (and then eat it of course. Yuck!)

        The other brother caught a mouse in our attic. We didn’t even know we had mice.

        It’s definitely worth having cats around!

        • Rural Juror :

          I once saw my cat catch a huge bumble bee between her front paws and then eat it. Alive. Scary and gross!

      • This. (the Raid part at least)

        I’ve found that if I spray the entire perimeter of my apartment twice a year (spring and fall), I can stay pretty much bug free.

        Although, since I got a dog, I really haven’t seen any bugs…

      • My parents used to have a cat that would eat spiders but then spit out the legs. It was hilarious.

    • I hear you. I am having the exact same experience. It makes me hate myself for not having better coping skills. My landlord has an attorney taking care of the apartment (because ll is not around) who refuses to pay for repairs… At best he is willing to deduct approved repairs that I paid for from the rent next year. I really wanted this apartment because of the great location and had no idea this is what I would face. The whole experience makes me think I was right to follow my frustrating academic career and not have to deal with such lawyers as adversaries. ):

      • whine, need wine :

        exactly i just feel so mad all the time! and by the sound of it my landlord isnt even that bad (even tho ive never met him) because at least he responds. its just so frustrating that ive only been here a short time and its one thing after another

    • Ugh. I hate bugs. If it’s cockroaches, have you talked to your landlord?

  13. Random question.

    For non-office environments – e.g. casual weekend days, out to brunch – would you wear a sequin skirt so long as the rest of your outfit was truly casual? Meaning, long sleeved tee, opaque tights, boots, blazer, etc. I’ve seen this on various websites but am trying to figure out if this is truly casual or just really weird.

    Thanks in advance.

    • I think it really depends on your age, your environment, and your personality. If you’re having qualms about the look, I would say it’s not for you. But that said, I have a good friend who has worn a tutu and jeans to dinner and it works for her.

      • Cleocatra :

        I really like this kind of high/low look (and I love to layer clothes), but then, my personal non-work style has been described as “quirky”, so YMMV. I do think that, if you’re wearing a bit of a mash-up such as you describe (which to me sounds fabulous), then it’s got to be worn with confidence and nonchalance, as otherwise it comes off as a bit dressing-up-box, IYKWIM?

        Give it a try, if you already have the components – you may surprise yourself!

    • Personally, I’d do a sequin tank or cardigan w/ some sequins over the skirt, just bc i could see sequins falling off by getting in out of chairs, cars, subways etc. It would also depend on where you live, e.g. how urban and trendy the area is generally.

    • i think it depends on the size, color, and “shininess” of the sequins. seriously! not to be too picky but there’s a big difference between big shiny hot pink / metallic blue sequins and more smaller, more neutral colored ones. i’ve seen pretty nice examples of the latter.

    • Personally, I think you have to be really careful with the look because it can scream morning-after “walk of shame.” I live near a college campus and I see this in action all the time. :)

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